Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Lanham v. BNSF Railway Co.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court overruling BNSF Railway Company's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction this negligence action brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 through 60, holding that the district court erred in determining that it could exercise personal jurisdiction over BNSF for claim that were unrelated to BNSF's instate activity. Plaintiff was seriously injured while working for BNSF on a section of train tracks near Houston, Texas. Plaintiff filed a complaint in the district court under FELA, alleging that his injuries were a result of BNSF's negligence. BNSF filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because BNSF was not "at home" in Nebraska and because Plaintiff's injuries had occurred in Texas. The district court overruled the motion to dismiss, finding that BNSF consented to personal jurisdiction by registering to do business in Nebraska. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that BNSF was not "at home" in Nebraska for purposes of general jurisdiction and that treating BNSF's registration to do business in Nebraska as implied consent to personal jurisdiction would exceed the due process limits set forth in prior cases. View "Lanham v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law
Brown v. State
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff's action against the State alleging negligence under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,209 to 81-8,235, on the grounds that the recreational activity exception applied to the facts of this case, holding that Plaintiff's tort claim was not barred by the reaction activity exception. Plaintiff was injured at a state recreational area when a riding lawnmower struck the picnic table where Plaintiff was sitting. Plaintiff brought this tort action against the State. The district court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the State had not waived its sovereign immunity because Plaintiff's claim fell within the STCA's recreational activity exception. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, at this stage in the proceeding, the allegations of Plaintiff's complaint and the reasonable inferences therefrom did not allow a court to find as a matter of law that Plaintiff's tort claim was barred by the recreational activity exception of section 81-8,219(14)(a)(i). View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law
Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. v. Freudenburg
In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to Shelter Mutual Insurance Company on its declaratory judgment action, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-310 does not allow provisions known as partial household exclusion clauses. Larry Freudenburg was injured in an accident where he was the passenger in a car covered by a policy Freudenburg and his wife had purchased from Shelter. Shelter refused to pay Freudenburg's request for reimbursement of expenses in the amount of the policy limit for bodily injury based on a partial household exclusion clause in Freudenburg's policy. Partial household exclusion clauses reduce automobile liability coverage from the policy amount to the state minimum when the injured person is an insured, relative, or resident of the insured's household. The district court concluded that partial household exclusions are not prohibited by section 60-310. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that an automobile liability policy policy in any coverage amount is not permitted to exclude or reduce liability coverage under the policy on the ground that the claimant is a named insured or resident in the named insured's household. View "Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. v. Freudenburg" on Justia Law
Eddy v. Builders Supply Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court dismissing Plaintiff's petition alleging that she had sustained a severe and permanent brain injury as a result of an accident with a nail gun while she was at work for Builders Supply Company, Inc., holding that the compensation court did not err in concluding that Plaintiff had been willfully negligent. The workers' compensation court dismissed Plaintiff's petition upon finding that she intentionally shot herself in the head with the nail gun. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court (1) did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness as a discovery sanction; (2) did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant Plaintiff a second continuance; and (3) did not err in finding that Plaintiff acted with willful negligence. View "Eddy v. Builders Supply Co." on Justia Law
Saylor v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing as time barred this action brought under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,209 to 81-8,235, holding that the savings clause of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-201.01 does not apply to an action under the STCA. It was undisputed that Plaintiff's lawsuit was filed outside the statute of limitations set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,227(1). At issue was whether Plaintiff could satisfy the requirements of the savings clause in section 25-201.01. The district court dismissed the action as time barred, finding that section 25-201.01 did not apply. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's STCA action was not timely commenced under the STCA and that the district court did not err in not applying the savings clause under section 25-201.01. View "Saylor v. State" on Justia Law
Fentress v. Westin, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court awarding temporary total disability and attorney fees to Suzy Fentress, holding that the compensation court did not err. Fentress received a workplace injury while working for Westin, Inc. The compensation court entered an award in which Fentress received temporary partial workers' compensation benefits. Westin later moved to terminate the temporary indemnity benefits and to determine maximum medical improvement (MMI) and permanency. After the compensation court held an evidentiary hearing to determine MMI Westin moved to withdraw its motion to determine MMI. The compensation court disallowed the withdrawal of the motion and, thereafter, awarded temporary total disability and attorney fees to Fentress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err when it (1) overruled Westin's motion to withdraw its motion to determine MMI; (2) admitted certain evidence during the hearing; (3) found that Fentress had achieved MMI with respect to mental health issues but not physical health issues; and (4) awarded Fentress medical treatment, temporary total disability, and attorney fees. View "Fentress v. Westin, Inc." on Justia Law
Rogers v. Jack’s Supper Club
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Workers' Compensation Court ordering Jack's Supper Club and its workers' compensation carrier (collectively, JSC) to reimburse Sheryl Rogers for medical expenses she incurred, holding that where Rogers selected the physicians who provided the treatment at issue in disregard of provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, JSC was not responsible to reimburse Rogers. Rogers injured her back while working for JSC. The compensation court approved a lump-sum settlement, and JSC remained responsible to pay Rogers for reasonable and necessary medical care for her work-related injury. After Rogers received treatment she asked that the compensation court order JSC to reimburse her. The JSC argued that it was not responsible for the medical expenses because Rogers failed to comply with Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-120(2), a statute governing selection of treating physicians. The compensation court rejected the JSC's arguments and ordered JSC to pay certain bills offered by Rogers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the compensation court erred in ordering JSC to reimburse Rogers for her treatment and by issuing a decision that did not comply with Workers' Comp. Ct. R. of Proc. 11. View "Rogers v. Jack's Supper Club" on Justia Law
Rutledge v. City of Kimball
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting the City of Kimball's motion to dismiss Appellant's complaint alleging that the City was negligent for failing to supervised its employee, holding that the claim was barred by the intentional torts exception to the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA). Appellant filed a complaint against the City seeking damages incurred after its then-employee, David Ford, allegedly attacked and choked Appellant in a city building. Appellant alleged that the City was negligent for failing to protect her and the general public when the City knew or should have known of Ford's past violent behavior, violent propensities, and prior assaults. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that Appellant's allegations were exempt from application of the PSTCA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's negligence claim arose out of a battery and, therefore, was barred by the intentional torts exception to the PSTCA. View "Rutledge v. City of Kimball" on Justia Law
Williamson v. Bellevue Medical Center, LLC
In this action for negligence and premises liability the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant, holding that there was no evidence from which a reasonable finder of fact could infer that Plaintiff had established all the elements of his premises liability case. Peggy Williamson was injured when she fell on a curb outside the entrance to Bellevue Medical Center, LLC (BMC). There was no defect in the curb, and the curb did not violate any code or ordinance. Peggy brought this action, and after her death, the action was revived in the name of her husband, Jay Williamson (Plaintiff). The district court granted summary judgment for BMC, concluding that Plaintiff failed to produce evidence that the curb created an unreasonable danger. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that evidence existed supporting an inference that the unpainted, tapered curb posed an unreasonable risk of harm to lawful entrants, such as Peggy, who would fail to protect themselves against the danger. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that BMC carried its burden to show it was entitled to summary judgment. View "Williamson v. Bellevue Medical Center, LLC" on Justia Law
Reiber v. County of Gage
In this negligence action brought by Plaintiff, the mother and special administrator of the estate of Chad Gesin, who committed suicide while in the Gage County jail, the Supreme Court affirmed the finding of the district court that Plaintiff's action was barred by sovereign immunity under Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-910(1), holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff's claim was barred by section 13-910(1). Plaintiff brought this action against the County of Gage, Nebraska, the Gage County sheriff, and unknown Gage County sheriff's employees under the Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 to 13-928, alleging that Defendants failed to follow the jail's established protocol and knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that Gesin was suicidal. The district court concluded that Defendants had exercised due care and that Defendant's action was barred by sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it concluded that Plaintiff's claim for money damages was barred under section 13-910(1) and that Defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor. View "Reiber v. County of Gage" on Justia Law